Digital Purging

Digital Purging

Don’t you love the sound your computer makes when you drag a file into the trash? The only thing better is the sound your computer makes when the trash gets emptied.

Slowly over the last month I have been doing some serious digital purging. It’s not quite as refreshing for me as, let’s say, purging my closet, I think because I enjoy the physical work of moving and hauling and bagging. Sitting at my computer dragging files with two fingers does not work up a sweat. Yet, the digital purge is important and cleansing for me all the same.

In the tidying up rage, it’s easy for me to forget about my computer files because I think so much in terms of actual space things are taking up in the world. It’s hard for me to think about dropbox space in the same way. Yet a conversation with fellow Enough blogger Kris about purging digital photos inspired me to take a good look at my computer files.

How does your computer look these days? Are your files organized? Can you find things? Do you save everything just in case out of ease like me? I realized that pile of seemingly weightless virtual stuff carries a lot of tangible weight in my life. So I got to work, chipping away at my digital purge.

Letting go of what I didn’t need, hearing that trash bin empty over and over again, I could actually feel head space opening up for new creation. I felt lighter. My backlog writer’s to-do list disappeared. My mind felt more clear and focused. In the digital purging process, I created a new, strategic filing system. I know what I have and where to find it. I will use the files I kept. I have a game plan, and I am excited to start.

New writers often have a hard time deleting because deep down we are afraid we will struggle to write the next good sentence. What if we never have another life experience worth writing about? But what if that next revision is the magic one? Having our old sentences gives us comfort. Letting go of old files felt like naming that I had markedly improved as a writer. I didn’t need the old sentences. The stories live in me, and I can put new sentences around them. Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, dragging old files into the trash helped me embrace the writer I am now. It felt brave.

Slowly, my computer has started to resemble my closet: simple, organized, strategic, uncluttered, approachable, relevant. My next step is an old hard drive, full of pictures and audio files. Wish me luck.